Great mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is widely distributed in temperate areas of Asia, Europe and North America. Many parts of the plant have sedative and narcotic properties; extracts of mullein roots, stalks, leaves and flowers are made into ointments, oils, tinctures, teas and poultices to treat problems with the bowels, chest, lungs and skin. The seeds have fewer reported medicinal uses, the effectiveness of which are anecdotal and not tested by clinical studies.
Mullein seeds contain rotenone, an odorless toxin that is found in many plants traditionally used to poison fish. Seeds of V. sinuatum, V. phlomoides, V. thapsiforme and V. pulverulentum, found on the island of Madeira, have been scattered on the water to intoxicate and stun fish in Greece and southern Europe.
Treat Skin Problems
A preparation made by boiling mullein seeds has been used to treat chapped skin and soothe chilblains. However, the glucosides in mullein plants that are essential ingredients in salves, oils, ointments and poultices used to treat skin problems are found in greater abundance in the leaves and flowers.
Treat Lice and Scabies
The toxic rotenone found in mullein seeds and other plants is an effective insecticide, according to the 24th edition of the "United States Dispensatory," cited on RyanDrum.com. Preparations of mullein seeds have been used to kill lice and scabies.
The seeds of V. pulverulentum and V. phlomoides have been used to expel tapeworms, according to an article in the July, 1902, edition of "Pharmaceutical Journal," referenced on Botanical.com.
Although mullein seeds can be used to grow mullein plants, this is rarely done because mullein is ordinarily found in abundance where it is a native plant. Mullein is native to large parts of Canada, the United States and Great Britain. It is listed as a noxious weed in Colorado and Hawaii. Do not import or plant mullein seeds in those states.